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GOP Debate: Behind the Scenes with Jake Tapper; GOP Debate Now Must-See TV; News Coverage of the Migrant Crisis in Europe; Interview with Slain Reporter Alison Parker's Boyfriend. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired September 13, 2015 - 11:00   ET


[11:00:12] BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Hey, good morning. I'm Brian Stelter. And it's time for RELIABLE SOURCES -- our weekly look at the story behind the story of how news and pop culture are made.

We have some special guests standing by this morning. First, a late- night talk show called unpredictable, ground-breaking and controversial. We have the host, Dick Cavett. He is here to size up Stephen Colbert's first news-making week as a host of CBS' "Late Show."

Also, CNN's Arwa Damon, taking us to the front line of the global immigration crisis, saying reporters have an obligation to speak to the people who were traveling across Europe.

And weeks after Alison Parker and Adam Ward were executed on live TV, Alison's boyfriend Chris Hurst, the news anchor at WDBJ, is about to go back on the air for the first time. You have to hear how this tragedy has changed his approach to his work.

But, first, the stage is almost set for the second GOP debate. Three days from today, 15 candidates facing off at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Once again, Donald Trump will literally be center stage.

And Trump's continuing rise in the polls means this debate could be even more contentious than the first, as all of the other GOP hopefuls focus their attacks on Trump and vie for their own breakout moments.

So, how do you handle all of these fired up candidates and then a wild card like Donald Trump?

Let's ask the man who is about to do it, CNN anchor Jake Tapper who is at debate site in Simi Valley, California.

Jake, thanks so much for being here this morning.


STELTER: Have you been watching the game tape? How do you prepare to moderate these debates? TAPPER: Look, the challenge is going to be considerable, given the

fact that you have 11 candidates on the stage for the main debate and they all want to talk and they all want to make their points. We're just going to try to enforce the rules -- a minute when you're called on, 30 seconds to respond if your name has been mentioned or you've been attacked.

And I'm just going to do the best I can. I don't know if bringing out a whip and a lion tamer's chair would help --


TAPPER: -- but we're just going to try to enforce the rules and ask the questions and see what happens.

STELTER: Is one of the goals for you on Wednesday to spur more actual debating? What I mean by that was, one of the most interesting moments in the FOX debate last month was very Chris Christie and Rand Paul side by side talked to each other and debated each other?

TAPPER: You and I are of like minds on that. I completely agree. That was my favorite moment from the debate. And when I saw that, I talked to our boss, Jeff Zucker, and I said that was my favorite part of the FOX debate. There are a lot of great moments, but that was my favorite one because it was actually two guys passionately debating an important issue.


TAPPER: Let's have as many of those as possible. So, yes, what the team and I have been doing is trying to craft questions that, in most cases, pit candidates against the other, specific candidates on the stage, on issues where they disagree, whether it's policy or politics or leadership. Let's actually have them discuss and debate. I'm going to be trying -- look, they're going to want to talk to the camera and they're going to get out their talking points, but I am going to attempt to get them to address each other and actually debate.

STELTER: And you'll be joined in the questioning by Dana Bash and Hugh Hewitt.

How does it work, do candidates and campaigns and operatives and journalists send you ideas for questions? Are you -- have you been overwhelmed by all these ideas?

TAPPER: It's not just candidates and campaigns and journalists. It's your Uncle Harry and your Aunt Sally and the guy that you scooped ice cream with at Baskin Robbins when you were 15 years old. Everybody that you've ever known is submitting questions, many of them are great questions.


TAPPER: A lot of them are interview questions. A lot of them are interview questions. A lot of them are questions that would be really good on a one-on-one but are not necessarily debate questions. So, that's what we've been crafting.

But, look, we've been pouring over the questions that have been submitted to CNN via social media, Twitter, or Facebook, or however. We just keep every day refining and refining and refining. And we'll see if it works on Wednesday.

STELTER: I asked viewers on Twitter questions for you. Jana asked, what's your strategy or corralling the Donald and limiting his bullying tactics? This was the question the FOX moderators were asked last month as well. Is there sort of a strategy or a plan in case he goes off the reservation so to speak?

TAPPER: I don't have a plan for Donald Trump any more than I have a plan for anyone else, which is just to say, if somebody -- if there are interruptions or if there is debate, you know, I think in some cases, you want to sit back and let that happen and let candidates debate and let the organic process run its course.

[11:05:00] If it gets out of control, if it gets out of hand, you want to say, excuse me, I'm sorry, we'd like to let everybody have a turn or let's try to follow the rules of the debate. But I don't anticipate any more problems with any one candidate than any other.

STELTER: You don't think that Trump will try to make you part of the story the way he tried to make Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace part of the story last month?

TAPPER: I don't think that -- look, I anticipate that somebody -- and I don't know who, but I anticipate that at some point, somebody is going to take a shot at me as the straw man, as the stand-in for the media writ large.


TAPPER: I don't know how it's going to happen. I don't know when it's going to happen. I don't know who it's to do -- who is going to do it. I mean, we should probably lay some bets down in Vegas as to what is going to be the one who does it. I don't know that it will be Donald Trump any more than it's going to be Carly Fiorina or Ben Carson.

I mean, the media is a whipping boy, and it's a Republican debate. Let's be frank. Republicans often take issue with the media writ large.

So, it could happen. My job is just to, if there -- if they're raising an issue that I think needs explaining, to explain quickly but generally just to move on to the next question, because, you know, look, ISIS, health care, jobs, these are topics that are much more important than me. So, I'll try to focus the attention where it needs to go.

STELTER: You probably saw this morning, actually you may not have. It was during your program, "STATE OF THE UNION", Trump tweeted out, "Why is someone like George Pataki, who did a terrible job as governor of New York and registers zero in the polls allowed on the debate stage?"

Now, I know you didn't make up the rules, didn't make up the criteria. What do you make of Trump going after other candidates like this, he's challenging their legitimacy? But I think our argument would be -- the more candidates, the better, as many as possible, because then you hear more voices.

TAPPER: Well, first of all, George Pataki is not on the main debate stage.


TAPPER: He is on the undercard debate stage with the three other candidates that did not make the cutoff for the main debate. So, that's -- he will be on the debate stage, that's true, but he won't be on the stage with Donald Trump. That's one.

Number two, he is not at zero percent in the polls. He is at I believe 1 percent in the polls or whatever the minimum is to make the debate stage. So, that's not accurate in terms of qualifying to get on the stage. And three, look, in all fairness to Donald Trump, George Pataki is attacking Donald Trump and attacking his legitimacy. George Pataki said that he's not going to vote for Donald Trump and Donald Trump won't be the nominee.

So, in this instance, it appears more like Donald Trump is firing back, counter-punching, and he has every right to do so.

STELTER: He also brought up the issue with Rand Paul, who will be on the main stage. He said Rand Paul shouldn't be allowed to participate either. And so, maybe that creates more opportunities for that debating, that actually debating we were talking about, or maybe the two men will actually talk to each other on the stage.

TAPPER: Well, look, there are issues where Donald Trump and Rand Paul disagree. There are issues where many candidates disagree. We're not just trying to set up ways for Donald Trump to disagree with every candidate on the stage. We have -- we are crafting questions that will pit many different candidates against one another.

I hope that they will be talking about leadership and policy and politics and not who deserves to be on the stage according to polling. I don't think that voters will find that all that compelling.


TAPPER: I do think that they will be voting on issues of leadership and policy differences, and that's what we want to get out.

STELTER: I know you're getting back to preparation. But before you go -- is this the toughest assignment of your career, especially knowing how big the audience is going to be?

TAPPER: The toughest assignment of my career was writing the book I wrote about Afghanistan because that entailed, you know, two and a half years worth of work and talking to people who have suffered through some amazing, amazing tragedies, people who have lost loved ones, people who have undergone battle and lost friends. And that was emotionally wrenching and taxing.

This is a challenge, and I'm excited about it. And, you know, I would be lying if I pretended that I am not a little nervous. But it's nothing compared to that.

And look -- I mean, at the end of the day, having written that book helps me keep assignments like this in perspective. I'm sure there are going to be plenty of nasty tweets coming my way one way or another on Wednesday night, as is the case every day of my life. It's nothing compared to actual bullets fired by the Taliban. So, I'm OK.

STELTER: Jake Tapper, just a little nervous this morning. Thank you so much for joining us here.

TAPPER: Teeny bit (ph).


STELTER: And a reminder: Jake's STATE OF THE UNION is coming up in about 50 minutes from now.

Coming up next here, debating an 800-pound gorilla. CNN's newest media reporter Dylan Byers is joining me to handicap the challengers as they take on Trump Wednesday night.

[11:10:03] And later, before there was Colbert, there was Cavett. The host of a late-night talk show who broke new ground on network TV is going to review another.

We'll be right back with that.


STELTER: The stakes are so high for Wednesday's GOP debate here on CNN. And that's not just promotional babble.

For some perspective about past debates I printed out the ratings spreadsheet for every primary season debate for the past decade. And here's what I found -- back in the 2008 campaign cycle, FOX's first GOP debate in May of 2007 had 2.5 million viewers. Then in the 2012 cycle, FOX's first debate of that season had 3.2 million viewers.

So, there's a range of sort of 2 million to 3 million viewers. Now, let's face it -- these events were primarily for political junkies, not for a general audience. But now, that has changed.

Thanks in part to Donald Trump. FOX's first GOP debate this season shattered every record all at once with 24 million viewers. That's bigger than almost every show on TV and almost as big as football even. Twenty-seven million people tuned in for the NFL season opener at Foxborough this week.

So, it's no wonder Wednesday is being likened to a Super Bowl.

[11:15:03] Debate gaffes and zingers have the power to make or break a campaign as some candidates know all too well.


STELTER (voice-over): 1980, the Republican primary debate when Ronald Reagan essentially catapulted himself to the nomination.

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT: I am paying for this microphone.

STELTER: He was funding the debate with his campaign money to try to include all the candidates. Of course, he went on to win the New Hampshire primary and the presidency.

In 1992, Jerry Brown and Bill Clinton got into a spat on the stage.

JERRY BROWN (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He is funneling money to his wife' law firm for state business. That's number one.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: I don't care what you say about me, but you ought to be ashamed of yourself for jumping on my wife. You're not worthy of being on the same platform with my wife.

BROWN: I'll tell you something, Mr. Clinton, don't try to escape.

STELTER: George W. Bush and John McCain argued about negative ads in a 2000 CNN debate.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: This is an attack piece.


BUSH: Well, it says paid for by John McCain.

MCCAIN: That is not by my campaign.

STELTER: And who can forget when Hillary Clinton was asked about her likability in 2008.

MODERATOR: What can you say to the voters of New Hampshire on this stage tonight who see your resume and like it but are hesitating on the likability issue, where they seem to like Barack Obama more.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, that hurts my feelings.

MODERATOR: I'm sorry, Senator. I'm sorry.

CLINTON: I don't think I'm that bad.


STELTER: Former Texas Governor Rick Perry would surely like to have this moment back from 2012.

RICK PERRY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's three agencies of government that are gone when I get there. Commerce, Education and the -- what's the third one there? Let's see -- I can't -- the third one I can't. Sorry. Oops.

STELTER: And then, of course, the FOX News Republican debate from just last month. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie argued with Senator Rand Paul over the government's mass collection of personal communications.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When you're sitting in a subcommittee just blowing hot air about this, you can say things like that.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't trust President Obama with our records. I know you gave him a big hug, and if you want to give him a big hug again, go right ahead.

STELTER: And this moment needs no introduction.

MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS: You have called women you don't like fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals. Your Twitter account --



KELLY: No, it wasn't.

STELTER: With this roster of candidates on stage again, you can expect some more fireworks.


STELTER: Yes indeed.

So, joining me now and making his debut as CNN senior reporter for media and politics, Dylan Byers. He's out in Simi Valley this morning.

Dylan, welcome.

DYLAN BYERS, CNN SENIOR REPORTER FOR MEDIA AND POLITICS: Thank you so much. It's a privilege and a pleasure to be your colleague.

STELTER: You know, this Wednesday you are out there already at the debate site Simi Valley. The candidates who haven't been polling as well are going to be on at 6:00 p.m. Eastern time and the higher ranking candidates will be on at 8:00.

You wrote a lot about this for "Politico" this summer, all the hand- wringing about the two-tiered FOX debate. This time we're not hearing much complaining.

Do you think candidates have essentially accepted their fates at this point?

BYERS: Well, yes, I mean, you know, you have to think about -- I mean, how many candidates do we have left on that undercard stage now, right, and how relevant are they? We have 11 candidates in the main event. You have Rick Perry who has recently dropped out of the race.

I wouldn't be surprised if -- by the time we get to the next Republican debate, we don't even have enough candidates to have an undercard debate.

STELTER: That's very interesting. We saw Rick Perry dropping out on Friday. And you wonder if the debate was part of the reason why, knowing the debate was coming.

This week, Donald Trump suggested that the profits from the CNN debate be donated to charity. And, frankly, the story kind of seems dead now. There hasn't been much talk about it. And CNN hasn't commented on it. But it's true that these events cost a lot to produce and there aren't a lot of advertising revenue.

So, what is your ratings prediction? How many viewers do you expect to have tuned in on Wednesday?

BYERS: That's a great question. So, we said 24 million viewers for the FOX News debate. Now, that was sort of opening night, right? I mean, I watched the Pats-Steelers game on Thursday. I don't know if I'm going to watch Thursday night football next week.

So I don't know if it's going to be quite as high. I am putting it at about 18 million to 20 million. That said, Donald Trump obviously generates a lot of interest. We're out of summer and into the fall.


BYERS: I think more people are watching because of that. But I put it in 18 million to 20 million, but I wouldn't be surprised if it went higher and even match what FOX News put up --


STELTER: My prediction has been a little lower. I've been thinking 16 million and 17 million. Then again, there might be people who missed the FOX debate, who want to see what all the fuss is about, who want to see Trump on that stage now, and maybe that's going to drive viewers who didn't watch a month ago. So, there's sort of those two dynamics I guess in play.

BYERS: Well, I think that's true. And I also, if you look at the highlight reel you just played, right? I mean, these debates are some of the most exciting moments of the political season, and that debate just a month ago, I mean, there were fireworks for the full 90 minutes.

So, you know, I think a lot of people who missed that debate are looking forward to tuning in to this one.

[11:20:01] STELTER: And I think we can't underestimate the significance of the fact that these candidates get face time in front of 15 million, 20 million, 25 million viewers as opposed to in prior debate cycles, two or three million. It's a huge advantage from past seasons, isn't it?

BYERS: It's an enormous advantage. I mean, if you think about it, like you said, this time in any other political cycle, we're looking at 2 million to 3 million viewers. The most viewers for any cable news primary debate was less than 7 million.

You had 24 million last time. We're going to put up similar numbers this time around. The whole sort of conventional wisdom that the early days don't matter and that we're not -- you know, this election doesn't really start until we all roll into Iowa --


BYERS: -- that doesn't apply this time. Donald Trump has made this a major national media event that the country is paying attention to and that the country can't ignore because you can't go to an airport, you can't go to a bar without seeing Donald Trump in the Republican primary story, you know, rolling out as it is.

STELTER: Yes, I feel like at dinner parties people used to talk about the weather when they got there, and now, they're talking about Trump. He's sort of our national conversation. Before I have to go, do you think this debate is make or break for any candidate in particular?

BYERS: Sure. I think it's -- it's all about promotion and relegation. If you are Carly Fiorina and you are on the debate stage now, you have to prove why you are there. If you're Ben Carson and you find yourself standing at center stage, you have to demonstrate to the American people why you deserve to be there.

By the same token, if you are someone like a Walker or Paul who has been falling in the polls or any of those candidates at the wings of the stage, you also have to demonstrate why you shouldn't be kicked off that stage. And so, you know, doing that in front of 20 million, 24 million people as opposed to two million people is a huge opportunity, and it's free press and it's a big deal for these candidates.

STELTER: Sure is like fight night.

Dylan, great to have you here. Thanks so much.

BYERS: Thanks so much, Brian.

STELTER: And a reminder for everyone's calendar, the GOP debate starts at 6:00 p.m. Wednesday, right here on CNN.

Coming up: Biden, Bush, Clinton, Trump, candidates running the talk show gauntlet, especially on Stephen Colbert's new show.

But before there was Colbert, there was Cavett. Late-night history repeating itself. Dick Cavett joins me next.


[11:26:38] STELTER: Welcome back. Week one of "The Late Show" with Stephen Colbert is in the books. So, what exactly did we learn?

Well, we learn that the guest booking wars are back in a big way, especially when it comes to presidential candidates.


STEPHEN COLBERT, THE LATE SHOW: In what ways do you politically differ from your brother George?

STELTER (voice-over): Late-night TV. For politicians, is it the new Sunday manager? Stephen Colbert's "Late Show" premiere featured presidential contender George Bush.

JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm obviously younger.

COLBERT: Younger, uh-huh.

BUSH: Much better looking.

COLBERT: Uh-huh. Policy, though. Any policy? Yes?

STELTER: And two nights later, it was Vice President Joe Biden.

COLBERT: Do you have anything you'd like to tell us right now about your plans?



BIDEN: I think you should run for president again and I'll be your vice president.

STELTER: Yes, late-night couches are increasingly a place for political Q&A. Colbert invited Hillary Clinton for his premiere too, but she is doing "The Tonight Show" with Jimmy Fallon this week instead.

Fallon also beat Colbert to Donald Trump.

TRUMP: Once I announced I was doing it, nobody believed I was doing it.

JIMMY FALLON, THE TONIGHT SHOW: I didn't believe you're doing it.

TRUMP: I know. Nobody did. You didn't.

FALLON: I still don't. I don't know. Are you?

STELTER: This booking battle shows the symbiosis between the candidates and the late night comics who make fun of them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Comedian is no journalist. They're going to ask questions aren't so serious. They're not going to talk about economic policy as much as maybe what's your favorite midnight snack, what about your family, things about your childhood. Things that wouldn't be asked by a journalist and as important to a voter and they get to show their personality hopefully.

STELTER: Hopeful they use the couch to humanize themselves, like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie eating a doughnut on Letterman.

John McCain announced his run on Letterman show in 2007.

And Mitt Romney did a top ten list.

MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Isn't it time for a president who likes like a 1970s game show host.


STELTER: Late night has become a rite of passage for presidential candidates, one the actually dates back five decades. Then-Senator John F. Kennedy went on Jack Parr's show in 1960. In 1968, Richard Nixon did "Laugh In".


STELTER: And who can forget Bill Clinton playing the sax on Arsenio Hall?

But there's always the risk of an awkward moment or just coming off dull. Many critics thought John Kerry bombed on "The Daily Show" in 2004.

JON STEWART, COMEDIAN: Are you or have you ever flip-flopped?

JOHN KERRY, THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I've flip-flopped flop- flipped.

STELTER: Now as the 2016 race heats up, viewers will be watching to see if the candidates are big hits on late night or political misses.

What's already clear about Colbert's "Late Show" is that he wants to distinguish himself by having serious guests and conversations like his emotional interview with Vice President Joe Biden the other day.

Let's talk about that with Emmy Award winning talk show host Dick Cavett. He joins me now. He's also the author of the book "Brief Encounters: Conversation, Magic Moments and Assorted Hijinks." It's out in paperback next month.

Mr. Cavett, thank you so much for being here this morning.

DICK CAVETT, TALK SHOW HOST: Well, I was in the neighborhood. So, it's OK.

STELTER: Perfect, it's very convenient. I asked you more than a year ago on the show if you thought the decision to have Colbert host the show was a gamble. Here is what you said back then.


CAVETT: If they are, it's probably the best gamble anybody ever took. I can't think of anybody more qualified or if there ever has been anyone more qualified --



CAVETT: ... to do this show.


STELTER: Now you have seen the first week. So, do you still agree? Is it true?

CAVETT: Absolutely.

Let's just face it. Colbert has everything that's needed, looks, brains, ability to talk, well-informed, and a lightning wit. And, really, that and a couple other things, maybe his ability to dance, make him a perfect host for the show.


CAVETT: By the way, politicians on the show is -- can be a deadly game.

STELTER: Oh, yes?

CAVETT: I had the late Spiro Agnew on one time, and the show went right through the floor to the center of the earth from boredom.


CAVETT: And the idea that it's an X-ray camera scares some politicians.

The hell it is. I have sat next to the biggest phonies in the world, and the camera did not detect it.

STELTER: Tell us who the single biggest phony was.

CAVETT: Ah, let's see.

It probably -- well, it's such a difficult choice.


CAVETT: One was the segregationist governor Lester Maddox, who said I had called all the people in Georgia bigots and threatened to walk off. So, I said, well, if I called anyone a bigot who is not a bigot, I apologize, and he walked off.

But he was a pretty lively guest. Some of them are just -- put you into the ground.


Well, let's look at the calendar for the next two weeks of late night. Here are some of the political guests that are coming up, Martin O'Malley on "Seth Meyers," Hillary Clinton on "Fallon," Bernie Sanders on "Colbert." Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer is going to be on Colbert's show. I think that is really interesting.

Then, the following week, we see Trump is going to be on with Colbert, Ted Cruz on with Colbert.

Let me read you something that Justice Breyer said to "National Justice." The interview came out this morning.


STELTER: He talked about why he said yes to Colbert. And he said -- quote -- "He has a serious news show. He is more interested in news. It's not a comedy show in particular."

What do you make of that idea that Colbert might be not a fake newsman on Comedy Central anymore; he might actually be performing some acts of journalism on his late-night show with these candidates?

CAVETT: Well, my guest is that he will be more of a news show that would -- as they shake the show down -- and we have seen his skill in sketches and comedy stuff. He does it all well.

But my guess is -- and I don't mean to name-drop by saying that I know him, but he is a wonderful conversationalist. And my guess is that those parts of the show will expand.

And Donald Trump, is it, that he's having on?

STELTER: Oh, yes, a couple weeks from now.

CAVETT: Yes. Well, I can wait.


STELTER: You can wait. So you will wait.

So, you didn't watch him on "Fallon" on Friday night? Trump was on "Fallon." He was hilarious.


CAVETT: Yes, he handled himself very well. He really has the ability to do that. I have got to say that for sure. And it's good for them to appear there, instead of on some of the dreariness of Sunday morning, what the writer Calvin Trillin called the Sabbath gasbags.


STELTER: Excuse me. Did you just say dreariness of Sunday morning?

CAVETT: I did, because it can lapse into the dreary.

However, because of all the brilliant hosts who are all dear friends of mine, it rarely does. (LAUGHTER)

STELTER: You saved yourself there. I will take that. I will take that.

CAVETT: I tried.

STELTER: But, you know, Trump was on -- Trump was on "Fallon." They had that scripted sketch I thought was pretty well done.

And we showed that the -- it showed that Trump can actually maybe laugh at himself a little bit. Isn't that ultimately the value of these guys going on late night?

CAVETT: Yes, that -- that's what's valuable about it, yes.

And we're lucky to have two excellent guys like Trump and Fallon. And let's not forget the excellent other Jimmy.

STELTER: That's right.

CAVETT: And -- yes.

And, you know, we're lucky today, because, in the old days, you had -- people would switch back from me to Jack to whatever, to Johnny, to -- now you can see both of them, or all three of them, with our new techniques. So that's a plus.

And it's damn good for a politician to go on and get a laugh on late night. And people immediately think, I like him better than I ever did before, or her, we must add. I hope that they just...

STELTER: Any advice for Colbert after you have seen one week of his shows?

CAVETT: Say that again.

STELTER: Any advice for Colbert now that you have seen the first week of his shows, anything he can improve on?

CAVETT: Only advice would be to keep doing it, and let us see more and more of you talking, because he is so good.

And he is not the type who will let a politician get away with B.S. If there were a politician foolish enough to say, I can solve the border problem, Colbert will say, you're not leaving here until you tell us how, or words to that effect.

STELTER: Well, that interview will be on September 22, Trump with Colbert. It will also be interesting to see Clinton on "Fallon" this week.

Dick Cavett, always a pleasure to have you here. Thank you.


CAVETT: Have me back.


STELTER: Let's -- I will set a date during the commercial break here.

Coming up on the program, though, hundreds of thousands of desperate migrants have been pouring into Europe. And CNN senior international correspondent Arwa Damon has been there literally every step or jog of the way to report their stories.

This incredible live scene played out on television here on CNN a few days ago. She is going to join me from the border of Serbia and Hungary in just a moment.


STELTER: Welcome back.

Thousands of people are rallying across Europe this weekend, pushing leaders to do more in the face of an influx of migrants pouring into the West from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond.

Almost 400,000 have already braved the journey by land and by sea to seek safe haven in Austria, Germany and other countries.

One way to tell how big a story is becoming is to watch and see when top news anchors from TV networks travel to the scene.

And this week, ABC's David Muir anchored from a refugee camp at the Hungary-Syria border, that Serbia border.


NBC's Lester Holt is there this weekend. He is going to begin reporting tonight.

But I think the most remarkable, most impressive reporting has come from the journalists who have been there for a long time, like CNN's Arwa Damon, who has covered the whole arc of the story, through her reporting on the brutal fighting inside Syria and on conditions at refugee camps in Turkey, Jordan and Iraq.

And now she is at the gates of Europe on that border between Serbia and Hungary, covering the story with what media critics have called extraordinary power and compassion.


STELTER: Arwa, thank you so much for coming on the program and talking about the story behind the story.

You have been covering this refugee crisis for years. You have been covering what has happened in Syria and how it's spread to other countries. Why do you think it seems to be breaking through now?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think, right now, it's difficult to ignore, for the Western world to try to turn its back on what's happening, because the Syria and Iraq crises, and Afghanistan, for that matter, have literally made their way all the way through Europe, and deeper into Western Europe.

You can't ignore scenes like this anymore, because this is not something that is isolated. This is something that is happening on a daily basis. Thousands are making this trek in what are now absolutely miserable conditions. Parents, you see there trying to shield their children as best they can.

It is pouring rain, and there is very little shelter here. In fact, the only sort of assistance that you will see in a place like this is thanks to volunteers. And when this is happening in Europe, Europe can no longer ignore what is taking place. It is fairly easy, relatively speaking, to try to turn your back on the violence that has ravaged Iraq and Syria, but you can't really turn your back on this, not when it ends up in your own backyard.

STELTER: Your reports have been so widely praised back here in the U.S. as some of the best reporting of your entire career. And I think one of the reasons why it has resonated so much is because it's been live. You have been walking along the highway live, running through a cornfield live.

Tell us how you have been able to do this with your crew there in Europe.

DAMON: You know, we do this with the support of our crews, our producers, our camerapeople, and also with our support back in our various different headquarters, because it is so important to keep tracking exactly what it is that these people are going through on a regular basis, because it's not as if they cross one border and then they have an opportunity to relax or to get warm.

No, this is the crossing from Serbia into Hungary. This is the gateway to the European Union. And just look at these conditions. So, yes, it's our responsibility to bring as much of this as we possibly can into our viewers' homes.

STELTER: At times, I have sensed you have been frustrated by the European response to the crisis. Has it been hard to keep those emotions in? Or have you felt comfortable sharing them openly?

DAMON: I think one needs to express a certain level of frustration and anger, because that is what the refugees are feeling. They fail to understand how it is that they can come this far, reach Europe, and end up in these absolutely miserable conditions.

The other thing is, this is not something new. Sure, it's in the headlines right now. It is making big news right now, but people have been crossing this route for about a year, perhaps not in these same numbers, but going through these very same hardships.

We are pretty much, to a certain degree, their only voice. They are so angry,they are so desperate, they are so confused by the way that they have been treated. And they are absolutely exhausted, mentally, physically, emotionally exhausted.

And, yes, it is our responsibility to take what it is they have been through and try to tell it as best we can. And that emotion has to be injected, because those are their emotions, this is their hardship, this is their anger, their frustration, their desperation.

And our job is to try to translate that, to the best of our abilities, and, again, bring it and drive it home to our viewers, and especially try to drive home that very critical point that this -- these are people, and this could be any one of us. These are people who thought that their lives were safe, who thought that their realities were stable, and then saw it all ripped away from them by violence over which they had no control and many are still struggling to comprehend.

STELTER: Have you sensed that some of the government reactions that we have seen in recent days have been a direct result of these reports from you and your counterparts in the field?

DAMON: It's hard to tell.

And at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter why the world is paying attention. The important thing is that they are paying attention, and I think what's important right now is, you know, the current catchphrase seems to be Europe has woken up or the world has woken up.


And that's great, yes, but the real issue right now is to make sure that, if in fact Europe and the world have woken up, they don't fall back asleep and they don't betray and abandon these people again.

STELTER: Arwa, thank you so much for sharing us the story with us and for talking about the journalist's role when covering it in these countries.

Thanks so much.


STELTER: And let me clarify what I said at the beginning of the segment. I called these travelers migrants. I do think the more accurate word in this case is refugees.

And I know that journalistic debate about the language used in the coverage of the story will continue.

Now, to find ways to help with this refugee crisis, go to

And up next here on RELIABLE SOURCES, nearly four weeks ago, the murder of two journalists live on the air shocked the nation and threw a community into grief. Now the WDBJ anchor who says he lost the love of his life goes back on the air tomorrow.

Hear why Chris Hurst wants to get back to work next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


STELTER: It has been 18 days since WDBJ reporter Alison Parker and photographer Adam Ward were shot and killed during an early morning live shot.

Family, friends and colleagues are still reeling from the tragedy, including WDBJ evening anchor Chris Hurst. He and Alison had been dating for nine months and they wanted to get married.

In the hours after the shooting, Chris tweeted: "We were very much in love. We had just moved in together. I am numb."

And then he wrote: "She was the most radiant woman I ever met. And for some reason, she loved me back."

Well, tomorrow, Chris Hurst will be back on the air for the first time since Alison's killing.

And I want you to hear how he's doing. I spoke with him a little while ago.


STELTER: Chris, first, thank you for being here, and my condolences personally for your loss.


STELTER: Tell me about going back to work, your expectations for tomorrow. Why is it important for you to get back on air, to get back to your job at the station?

HURST: Brian, it's what she loved to see me do. It's what I loved to do. She loved to see me in what she called work mode, when I would come in early to have the exclusive interview all lined up while she was there at the station.

She liked seeing me in that environment. And then also, too, when you take an anchor position, they counsel you that, in times of tragedy and grief, you are going to have to be there to console the audience, to console your viewership in your community.

And, unfortunately, in this very troubling time, I need to be in that anchor chair to tell people that we, literally, me personally included now, will start this healing process together.

STELTER: People felt like they knew Alison from watching her every day.

HURST: Right.

STELTER: We know there is a special bond, especially in morning TV, because people are waking up, turning on the TV, getting ready for the day, watching people like Alison every single day.

For you, now that you have had a couple of weeks to reflect on this sick attack that happened, do you think it could have happened to anyone? Do you feel that television reporters like Alison are uniquely vulnerable in these situations?

HURST: I think that they are uniquely vulnerable, but that doesn't necessarily mean that dramatic changes need to occur.

I don't think journalists want to live in an environment where they need to wear bulletproof vests or have security with them. They want to be unencumbered from any of those restrictions, so that they can do their job with great freedom.

Alison -- you are absolutely right -- came into people's homes every single morning, was the first thing many people saw when they woke up, and brightened everyone's day. She was a shining light in our community. And what adds to the tragedy and to the heartache is that so many thousands of people saw her and Adam's death live on television.

And they are dealing with a unique kind of grief. We are trying to do the best we can. But I cannot tell you enough that Adam and Alison made everybody's day so much better. And we don't have that anymore. We are trying to have their energy come through us, but that's a really difficult challenge because they were the most unique, amazing people I have ever met.

STELTER: We know that Alison's father has made reducing gun violence his mission. And you have said you are supporting him, but you're not taking a particular position.

HURST: Sure.

STELTER: Tell me about your approach as a journalist on this.

HURST: It's very difficult for me.

And I don't really know if what I am doing is the right thing or the wrong thing. I am trying to do right by Alison. She loved me as a journalist. She had strong convictions and ethics. But I'm going into an environment where there is no playbook

As a journalist, I will still try to do work in my community, the kind of work Alison was doing, to make our community safer and better. And I do think that we need to have a substantive conversation on violence in general.

Why have we become a violent nation? And why does violence continue to occur across all arenas? And so you have to look at mental health issues. You have to look at the tools that are used to commit those violent acts and then also prosecution and legislation as well.

STELTER: I hate to say it, but this is obviously tricky.

HURST: Yes. STELTER: I wonder if you are not using the word gun violence because

you feel that you will be tarred as an activist, instead of as a journalist.

HURST: Yes, I think that in the past, Christiane Amanpour, when she was over in Bosnia, and she saw genocide, she called it genocide, because she doesn't feel like she needed to get both sides in order to really stand by her convictions and make a conclusion as a journalist.

I think that conclusions are a very unique situation to be in, one that I am not qualified or willing to wade into. But I can tell you that no one should have to go through the heartache and the anguish of anyone who has lost a loved in such a sudden fashion. And there is work that journalists can do to investigate and possibly report or expose potential solutions to reduce violence in all of its forms.

STELTER: You would like to see a more aggressive posture from the fourth estate, from the media, when it comes to these stories, these issues?

HURST: We are the fourth estate, Brian. We are on equal level with all of the other branches of government. And, sometimes, I feel that certainly in the media and journalists forget that.


And what I have been talking to many journalists about since this happened is that, Alison, I believe, would want us to realize that what we have is a great privilege, to do what we do. And that comes with a lot of responsibility as well.

And she was so responsible in the work that she did. And I encourage all journalists out there to remember that responsibility in the work that they do.

STELTER: I speak for everyone I know in the news industry when I say our hearts go out to you and all of you at WDBJ.

Thank you for being here this morning.

HURST: Thank you, Brian.

I would say, have a sustained level of effort. That is what she brought to the table every single day. It is our responsibility in the media to never give up that level of effort. Bring it every single day, like Adam and Alison did.

STELTER: Thank you.

HURST: Thank you.


STELTER: And stay with us. We will be right back.


STELTER: We're all out of time here today, but check out our media coverage all week long,